Failure to consider medical record retention laws is a common pitfall that could lead to legal liability when switching EHRs or acquiring practices. HIPAA specifies retention for six years, CMS has different storage requirements for cost reports and managed care records ranging from six to ten years. State laws vary from five to ten years. Under the False Claims Act, physicians can be sued seven to ten years post care. Most experts recommend storing inactive adult medical records for ten years and inactive records of minors until they reach majority age, but what does this have to do with switching Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems?
As it turns out, switching EHRs has a great deal to do with record retention laws. In the world of paper, records can sit around on shelves with no issues. EHR is more complicated, because it is rare that all information entered into a system can be exported. Even with the compatibility standards required by Meaningful Use, it is still very difficult to convert data from one EHR to another.
As a result, some health systems are required to maintain fully functional legacy systems if they switch EHRs or acquire other practices. This may include preserving older server operating systems, applications, databases, and of course, the data. It is extremely expensive to maintain legacy systems and retain the expertise necessary to support them. Is there any way to avoid such a fiscal pit?
DataSourceMD has developed a comprehensive strategy to tackle this problem. We begin with a comprehensive data dump where possible, and use robotic “screen scrape” technology for vendor systems that hold data hostage. Next, we parse the data and sort it by patient last name, first name, and unique identifier. Then we render all the patients’ information into common human-readable file formats, like Microsoft Word or PDF. We build a C-CDA document for discreet data, and finally, we save all documents uniquely named and in chronological order in a simple flat file system, where each patient has one folder. This is basically the same way a paper chart works.
Our solution allows for easy storage and backup; no legacy EHR resources are necessary. The flat-file system is also intuitive and easy to use. No one needs to know how to use an obsolete EHR when retrieving old charts, all you have to do is navigate to the appropriate patient folder. It is also easy to share information with other providers, insurance companies, or auditors. Simply add the requested patient folder or just those documents of interest to an encrypted zip file, and you are ready for a HIPAA-compliant data transfer.
Postponing a decision on your document retention strategy not only costs you time and money, but it may also needlessly expose your practice to legal issues. Please contact us at 678-908-3543 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit us on the web at http://www.datasourcemd.com for more information about our data extraction services, or click here to sign up for our newsletter. We look forward to hearing from you.